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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Cilea’s four-act opera of jealousy and tangled love, first performed in Milan in 1902, is based on the true-life story of Adriana Lecouvreur, an 18th-Century actress at the Comédie Française, whose rival for the love of Maurizio, Count of Saxony, is the married Principessa di Bouillon.
Sung in Italian with English subtitles
Adriana Lecouvreur - Mirella Freni
Maurizio - Peter Dvorsky
Prince de Bouillon - Ivo Vinco
Princesse de Bouillon - Fiorenza Cossotto
Abbé de Chazeuil - Ernesto Gavazzi
Michonnet - Alessandro Cassis
Quinault - Giuseppe Riva
Poisson - Osvaldo Di Credico
Mlle Jouvenot - Patrizia Dordi
Mlle Dangeville -
Part eleven of this mid-price collection, this DVD includes a 32 page booklet with libretto by Colautti after the play Adrienne Lecouvreur by Eugène Scribe and Ernest Legouvé.
Running time: 159 mins
Picture format: 4:3
Sound format: Dolby Stereo
R E V I E W S:
Adriana is a woman who lives for drama, both onstage and off. Her first appearance is typical: with studied casualness, she paces backstage at the Comédie, practicing her declamations as if no one could hear her, but knowing very well that she is not alone. Freni grasps this; her portrayal is sympathetic but not naive. By 1989, her voice had become heavier and less controlled than it was at the start of her career. She cannot float the phrases of “Io son l’umile ancella” as she once could, but, one can easily suspend belief and pretend that this Adriana both sounds and looks like a young woman. In short, this is a strong, moving portrayal of a difficult role, and Freni deserves the noisy acclaim that she receives at the end of every act.
Fiorenza Cossotto is about the same age as Freni, I would guess. With her heavy dress and her powdered white wig, her Principessa di Bouillon seems much riper, however—think of Stephen Frears’s film Dangerous Liaisons: Cossotto is Glenn Close to Freni’s Michelle Pfeiffer. Even at this relatively late point in her career, Cossotto is an effective Principessa, although one can go a long way in this role on the strength of attitude (read: camp). Her confrontations with Freni—operatic catfights at their best—guiltily keep the temperature high. Ivo Vinco, another veteran, is welcome as her husband. Peter Dvorsky is a loud, unsubtle Maurizio (“La dolcissima effigie” seems to be a public announcement), but Alessandro Cassis is moving as Michonnet, the stage director who secretly carries a torch for Adriana. Ernesto Gavazzi is amusing as the fussy, intriguing Abbé. The “Judgment of Paris” ballet in act III features some very impressive dancing, plus suggestive body suits for the fauns. (Unfortunately, these were toned down for the 2000 staging.) Gavazzeni conducts with affection and understanding, and he receives his share of the acclaim before and after the final act.
Mirrors and curtains provide the recurring theme in this production; they are everywhere, always suggesting confusion over what is real and what is an illusion. As in the Dessì version, Freni’s Adriana and Dvorsky’s Maurizio enjoy a long snog on her sofa amid the modestly dimmed lights after their reunion in act IV. This detail seems a bit tasteless, given the overall tenor of the production.
The English subtitles are well done, although much is omitted during the ensembles. The video format is 4:3, and the audio formats are stereo and Dolby digital. Both come across well on this DVD. If you want Adriana Lecouvreur on DVD, this (so far) is the one to get.
Raymond Tuttle, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Adriana Lecouvreur by Francesco Cilèa
Sara Mingardo (Alto),
Alessandro Cassis (Baritone),
Peter Dvorsky (Tenor),
Ivo Vinco (Bass),
Mirella Freni (Soprano),
Fiorenza Cossotto (Mezzo Soprano),
Ernesto Gavazzi (Tenor),
Giuseppe Riva (Bass)
Milan Teatro alla Scala Orchestra,
Milan Teatro alla Scala Chorus
Written: 1902; Italy
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
The Great Freni at Her Wonderful Best. September 25, 2012
By Irving N. (Bethesda, MD) See All My Reviews
"One of the first operas my wife and I attended at the new Met was Adriana Lecouvreur(either the late 1960's or the early 1970's) with my favorite Renata Tebaldi. She was magnificent. I never thought that I would ever see and hear anyone as great as Tebaldi in the role. But I have. Freni is absolutely magnificent in the role. Her voice and acting were magnificent. Dvorsky was a fine cohort, in great voice, for Ms. Freni. Freni was really one of our great singing and acting sopranos!"